17,000 local high street stores could open in Scotland this year

Euan Murray

New research by Barclays Corporate Banking has revealed that 17,000 local high street stores could open across the UK in the next 12 months as shoppers adapt to a post-lockdown world by ‘looking local’.

The report, Retail Unlocked, was published today and is available here. Its data shows that consumers in Scotland have returned to physical stores with confidence since restrictions began to ease. 69 per cent of customers said they have felt safe, or very safe, to return to the high street. A significant portion (39 per cent) are planning on stepping up their in-store shopping over the coming year and 42 per cent say that it is their favourite way to shop.

However, the benefits are most likely to be seen in local high streets rather than in big cities. Barclays Corporate Banking’s research shows that home and hybrid working patterns will persist into 2022 for more than a third (36 per cent) of workers in Scotland, with 14 per cent expecting to work entirely from home and 22 per cent anticipating a part-home, part-office model. Almost a third of consumers (31 per cent) across Scotland now say that the best way a retailer can appeal to them is to open stores in their local area.

As a result, many retailers are reviewing their location strategies. In fact, Barclays’ research reveals that 18 per cent of retail businesses in the UK with 10 or more employees are eyeing community store openings, with each of them looking at five new premises on average. Cumulatively, there is therefore potential for up to 17,000 new local stores across the country.

Euan Murray, relationship director and retail specialist for Barclays Corporate Banking in Scotland, said: “Our report shows how innovative UK retail businesses are looking to build back better to meet the challenges of a reshaped and revitalised retail landscape.

“Ecommerce has been the undisputed winner of the pandemic but not far behind are community high streets, as shoppers seek to ‘look local’ and support the stores on their doorstep. With the continuation of home working, this shows no sign of slowing down, and retailers are now looking at evaluating their store estates to meet local demand.

“As our report shows, the contemporary customer expects retailers to serve their needs: for speed, convenience, locality and, increasingly among younger demographics, for a sustainable ethos. The ability to deliver on these expectations with minimal friction – often by leveraging data and technology – will be pivotal in deciding who will win, and retain, customers in the future. I am consistently impressed at how innovative, agile businesses are adapting their strategies to survive and thrive across the whole shopping journey.”

Other findings from the report show that three in ten (29 per cent) retailers are looking to entice more people to physical stores by laying on experiences such as concerts and exhibitions and that since reopening, over half of retailers are seeing an increase in the average spend of customers.

Retailers are overwhelmingly optimistic about future growth, with 80 per cent confident of growth over the next 12 months.

Tags: Barclays

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